The best Kansas City Chiefs to ever wear the uniform: No. 22
By Matt Conner
In this special offseason series, we analyze the best players in Kansas City Chiefs history to wear every single uniform number. Here’s No. 22.
Here’s hoping emotions settle as we get some distance from it all.
That’s often how it works anyway, right? The thing that made us hot and bothered wasn’t such a big deal when we look at it over time. The issues weren’t as big as we made them out to be. When we get away from relationships that didn’t work, we find that not only are we not as upset but we can even identify our role in it all.
Sometimes distance will even allow us some perspective to understand the other person’s actions—even if they angered us in the moment.
All of this has everything to do with today’s winner, the best player to ever wear No. 22 for the Kansas City Chiefs. And life.
So many interesting characters wore No. 22 for the Chiefs over the years, bit and pieces of franchise history that make you remember the good and the bad.
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There was Dexter (McLeon) and Dexter (McCluster). Almost sounds like a crime show, one defense, one offense. The former played in 41 games with the Chiefs after several seasons with the Rams, intercepting 10 passes during his run from 2003-06. The latter was a second round pick of Scott Pioli’s who provided a nice offensive weapon for the Chiefs who never quite became the predicted home run threat.
Joe McKnight wore this number, a tragic story for a player who had such a quick-yet-inspirational push with the Chiefs toward the end of his career.
Some of the best last names in franchise history also played here. Back-up cornerback Sherman Gocroft wore No. 22 as did running back Rashaan Shehee (say that with a Michael Jackson dance move).
Perhaps the best player who didn’t make it among “the best” here is Ted McKnight, a running back who had a five year run with the team in the late ’70s (three years as a starter). In that time, he picked up 22 rushing touchdowns and 2,344 rushing yards, good for No. 13 currently on the Chiefs all-time list. In 1978, McKnight led the NFL in rushing yards/carry with an impressive 6.0 average.
The Runner-up: Willie Mitchell
Chiefs franchise history will tell you the team had an abundance of memorable defensive backs in the ’60s—names cemented in the team’s Hall of Fame. But Willie Mitchell is often overlooked despite playing in 87 games over 7 seasons with the team.
Mitchell, who played in two Super Bowls and won one, caught 16 interceptions during his 7-year stretch, returning three of them for a touchdown. He also served as a primary kick returner (with 1 touchdown to his credit) and for a short period, a punt returner as well. He might not have been as dominant as some of his teammates, but Mitchell was a valuable member of the best Chiefs teams of all time.
The Winner: Marcus Peters
There will be a day when the record books will fail to tell the story, and those who sat in the seats at Arrowhead watching Marcus Peters will say, “You just had to see him play.”
For now, the emotions are likely too high. The haters will bring up the anthem and be glad Peters is gone from the team. Or they might accuse him of taking plays off, of being too emotional, of being divisive for the team.
To do so however overlooks several things, including the fact that he gave more to the community than most ever noticed, that his teammates were always defending him, and that he was likely the single most talented cornerback to ever suit up for the Chiefs.
John Dorsey had a vision in mind for the kind of dominant player Peters could be at the NFL level and he was right when he selected him in the first round in 2015. From there, Peters learned how to bait quarterbacks—he baited quarterbacks!—into thinking he was creating more of an opportunity than was really there, only to strike on less intelligent QBs. The end result was 24 total takeaways generated over the last three years, 19 of them interceptions.
I feel like I need to say this again, in case someone is reading this 30 years from now who missed the whole thing: Marcus Peters was so good that he treated playing defense like fishing. You throw a line out to a spot and hope the fish (read: QB) is dumb enough to take the bait. And they did, time and time again.
When Peters played, an entire side of the field was automatically shut down. For every big play he would give up, he would turn around and hand you the fumble he just forced or the interception he just came up with. His instincts were literally second to none. His on-field intelligence allowed him to best bigger receivers by knowing when to hit, how to use his body, when to make a play on the ball as it makes its way to the receiver.
Very, very few NFL players make everyone watch with hope and anticipation at what can happen, and they’re almost all on offense. Peters was one such player, a true rarity who will now only be a three-year blip in Chiefs history.
It might not seem like it now, but at some point, there will be enough distance. And that’s when we’ll hopefully all be okay to tell the story of a defender who played like no one else.
Next: The Best to Wear It: No. 21
Congratulations to Marcus Peters for being the greatest Chiefs player to ever wear the No. 22 on his uniform!